Evidence of meeting #49 for Government Operations and Estimates in the 41st Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was pco.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Michelle Doucet  Chief Financial Officer, Corporate Services, Privy Council Office
Karen Cahill  Deputy Chief Financial Officer, Corporate Services, Privy Council Office
Danielle May-Cuconato  Vice-President, Corporate Services, and Chief Financial Officer, Canada School of Public Service
Jean-François Fleury  Vice-President, Learning Programs Branch, Canada School of Public Service

12:05 p.m.

Vice-President, Corporate Services, and Chief Financial Officer, Canada School of Public Service

Danielle May-Cuconato

As I mentioned, the school is moving from a blended-funding model to one that is fully funded and requires no new dollars. The old model emphasized revenue generation, whereas the new model allows the school to focus on developing the core competencies of all public servants. Under the new fully funded model, overall funding will go from $41 million provided through the main estimates in 2014-15 and increase gradually to $80 million in 2018-19. The funding will be sourced from client departments' reference levels based on their number of employees. Departments included in this new funding model are those in schedules I, IV, and V of the Financial Administration Act.

To better and more directly reflect the school's operations, beginning in 2015-16, we are adopting a new program alignment architecture that is simpler and clearer and that aligns with our new business model. The school also has a new single strategic outcome, which is that federal public service employees have the common knowledge, skills, and competencies to fulfill their responsibilities in serving Canadians.

ln 2015-16, the school is projecting to spend $91 million, and in the 2015-16 main estimates it requested approval for expenditures of $71 million. The school plans to fund the difference from unspent revenue carried forward from 2014-15. Under subsection 18(2) of the Canada School of Public Service Act, the school has statutory authority to carry forward any unspent revenue to the next fiscal year. Unspent revenue carried forward is reported in the public accounts. Fiscal years 2014-15 and 2015-16 are the first two years of a three-year transition plan from the old model to the new funding model.

Expenditures will remain within the $90 million range through 2016-17 to complete transformation initiatives that include modernizing the school's curriculum, increasing learner accessibility through technology-enabled solutions, modernizing classroom facilities, and optimizing office space including investing in Workplace 2.0.

Once the transformation initiatives are completed, the school's spending will reach steady state at approximately $80 million. To illustrate overall savings to the crown, using 2013-14 as a benchmark, the school spent $85 million the last full year under the old model. The projected spending level in 2017-18 will be $80 million, the first full year under the new model. ln other words, there will be a savings of $5 million.

During the transition to the new model, we are endeavouring to minimize impact on indeterminate employees. The school is leveraging existing resources within the public service by using a risk-based staffing strategy, thereby avoiding increasing our permanent salary envelope. Spending in non-salary dollars is expected to increase from $21 million in 2013-14 to $25 million in 2017-18. This increase reflects our intention to invest in continuous renewal and in updating our curriculum, and to keep pace with changes in technology. Ensuring that the school has the necessary internal capacity to undertake the transition to our new model is reflected in both our corporate risk profile and our integrated plan.

To deliver this new common curriculum for all public servants, we are building what we call an “ecosystem” of learning accessible anywhere, anytime and at no individual charge.

This rich, diverse collection of learning resources is increasingly available in a wide variety of formats and methods, and offers formal training via instructors or through online courses, as well as performance support, job aids, and opportunities for informal and collaborative learning.

Learning and technology will be synonymous. In this new ecosystem, learning will be delivered in the most efficient and effective way possible. Face-to-face learning will be experiential, whereas foundational training, such as authority delegation training, will be offered online to ensure timely and equitable access across the country.

We have already begun to see results in our transition to the new model. Last fiscal year, the school delivered training to more than 212,000 registered participants across the country, of which almost 169,000 were online. This represents a 4% increase in the overall number of learners and an 11% increase in the number of online participants, in comparison with the previous year.

Recent performance results show leadership and significant progress in several areas because of the strategies the school has put in place to strengthen our management of human resources, procurement, information management, internal governance and project management.

We are particularly proud of the results of the recent public service employee survey which confirmed significant progress has been achieved in developing a highly engaged and high-performing workforce.

In closing, Mr. Chair, I would like to say that this is an exciting time for learning in the federal public service. The school takes pride in the opportunity we have to lead the new public service-wide approach to learning. Creating a culture of continuous learning and development is a critical step in equipping all employees, new recruits and seasoned experts alike, with the knowledge and skills they need to continue to serve Canadians with excellence.

We'd be pleased to respond to your questions.

12:10 p.m.

NDP

The Chair NDP Pat Martin

Thank you very much, Ms. May-Cuconato. Thank you for being quick.

We have a little bit of time left. I would say it's enough for one five-minute round for each of the two main parties. I'm sorry, Mr. Byrne, but there probably won't be time to get to the Liberal Party. It's nothing personal, I can assure you.

For the NDP, it's Mathieu Ravignat. You have five minutes, please, Mathieu.

May 12th, 2015 / 12:10 p.m.

NDP

Mathieu Ravignat NDP Pontiac, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Thank you to the witnesses for being here.

As a former public servant, I can almost get excited about the changes at your office. In the past, if I think about the commission, I think probably the comments that I most often heard were about the problem of accessibility to courses and also the usefulness of courses. Let's take some time on the usefulness.

A one-size-fits-all model is not necessarily the best way to go when you're dealing with such a varied working group as public servants. I wonder what you've built into the level of consultation with the different types of public servants out there to ensure that, when you go forward with delivering new courses, they're actually relevant to the work people are doing.

12:15 p.m.

Vice-President, Corporate Services, and Chief Financial Officer, Canada School of Public Service

Danielle May-Cuconato

We have a number of consultation forums in place internal to the public service, so we're doing exactly what you speak of.

I'm going to ask my colleague Jean-François Fleury to elaborate more on that question.

12:15 p.m.

Jean-François Fleury Vice-President, Learning Programs Branch, Canada School of Public Service

I think it's a very good question. We take great pride in trying to reach as many public servants as possible from a common approach, but we also recognize the operational differences between those who work in a region versus Ottawa, or those who work in an operational versus a science-based department. Through this common learning, we add specific case studies or simulations that increase the conversation between those differences, so that, for example, managers across the public service, no matter where they are, can better understand the reality of those who are managing an operation versus managing an operation in Ottawa and those who are managing a call centre versus those who are managing a science centre. We really try to add that uniqueness to the conversation during those common learning approaches.

12:15 p.m.

NDP

Mathieu Ravignat NDP Pontiac, QC

Now with regard to accessibility, at least in the past—and you can correct me if I am wrong—there were internal costs for sending somebody to take a course. Some of these courses were very costly—they were contracted out—and often employees had difficulty getting access to courses they needed.

How will this rethink of what's going on increase the accessibility of courses to public servants?

12:15 p.m.

Vice-President, Corporate Services, and Chief Financial Officer, Canada School of Public Service

Danielle May-Cuconato

When we speak of changes to our technology and the platforms, it is really to increase that flexibility and invest in a curriculum that can be accessed online.

I don't know, Jean-François, if you want to add to that accessibility question.

12:15 p.m.

Vice-President, Learning Programs Branch, Canada School of Public Service

Jean-François Fleury

I think, again, it's a great question, because it was one of the principal drivers for the transformation and the change at the school: to make sure that a public servant who works in a remote area has as much access to the level of learning that one in Ottawa does. So the technology in the various platforms—virtual learning, videos, as well as online learning—really enables us to reach out as far and as deep as we can to make sure that there's a stronger equilibrium in access to learning.

12:15 p.m.

NDP

Mathieu Ravignat NDP Pontiac, QC

Can you give me a sense of the ratio of courses that will be or are internally developed to courses that are going to be offered that come from external consultants or contractors and are designed outside the public service?

12:15 p.m.

Vice-President, Learning Programs Branch, Canada School of Public Service

Jean-François Fleury

On that front most of the curriculum that is linked to HR management and financial management, what we call the enabling functions in government, will be designed and delivered mostly internally.

But we do want to make sure that going forward we introduce private sector experts as well as leading academics to come in and share their thoughts and views on leading-edge practices such as lean management, process management, and risk management, so that we have a stronger balance between those who represent the enabling functions in government and the leading practices outside of government to have a stronger, balanced approach.

12:15 p.m.

NDP

The Chair NDP Pat Martin

Mr. Ravignat, I'll have to stop you there. Thank you very much.

For the Conservatives, it is Mr. Adler, I believe. You have five minutes, please, Mr. Adler.

12:15 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Adler Conservative York Centre, ON

You're correct, Mr. Chair. Thank you very much.

I would like to find out a bit about.... Well, for example, Carleton University has an excellent school of public administration. Queen's has a very good school, as well as University of Victoria, U of T, and York. Why would I, if I were a public servant, not go there as opposed to here, or vice versa? What are the advantages of attending courses here, as opposed to in a private institution like a university?

12:15 p.m.

Vice-President, Corporate Services, and Chief Financial Officer, Canada School of Public Service

Danielle May-Cuconato

The training that we're offering is core to public service and that which is unique to public service. Where training is not unique to public service, that's the business that we're getting out of. There's a great deal of work that's going on to develop our curriculum right now and to do those important reviews.

Jean-François, I don't know if you want to elaborate on that.

12:20 p.m.

Vice-President, Learning Programs Branch, Canada School of Public Service

Jean-François Fleury

I think every department and every deputy head looks at their leadership requirements and needs, and if those are more generic or the aptitude is served better at the university, they can choose to go there.

Going forward, we are looking to partner more with universities to have joint programming, so that we can get the richness of academia in Canada with the more practical and experiential learning of the public service. So it's really to build a stronger foundation and partnership with those groups.

12:20 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Adler Conservative York Centre, ON

Okay, thank you.

If I'm a member of the public service, is the onus on me to...? How would I know that this exists? How would I enrol in programming? What's the process? Can you walk me through it?

12:20 p.m.

Vice-President, Corporate Services, and Chief Financial Officer, Canada School of Public Service

Danielle May-Cuconato

We have a learning management system that all public servants have access to. They have usernames and logins. They go into the system and look for the courses that meet their needs, and they enrol. It's pretty straightforward. They also include this in their learning plans, along with their performance management plans with their managers. The great benefit is that our no longer being on a cost recovery funding model, cost doesn't become an issue.

12:20 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Adler Conservative York Centre, ON

This is optional, right? It's not essential that as a member of the public service I need to enrol in any of these courses at any given time?

12:20 p.m.

Vice-President, Corporate Services, and Chief Financial Officer, Canada School of Public Service

Danielle May-Cuconato

There is some mandatory training related to a person's level of responsibility and the delegations that they hold.

12:20 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Adler Conservative York Centre, ON

There is? Okay, thank you.

Also, you mentioned that in 2013-14 a strategic directions initiative was launched. I'm wondering what some of the recommendations of that study were.

12:20 p.m.

Vice-President, Learning Programs Branch, Canada School of Public Service

Jean-François Fleury

The strategic directions really helped us define where we are now. We looked at the leading practices in learning and leadership development internationally. In North America, we met with leading private sector companies as well as other federal government departments and other governments to really try to grasp where learning was going.

One of the key conclusions of that study was that institutions that have centrally managed learning have a competitive edge, a stronger corporate culture, and actually have more retention and engagement within their organizations. So the move to become more centrally managed here in government was really influenced by the tendency of the corporate universities, for example, and a lot of the big private sector companies.

12:20 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Adler Conservative York Centre, ON

So there has been cooperation, then, between the private sector and government.

I'll tell you something. I remember that with simple things like getting your passport renewed, any interaction with government offices used to be a very stressful experience, from the customer-service level through to getting whatever you needed done. Now it's a rather pleasant experience. It's very orderly, very efficient. People are friendly; there's good emphasis on customer service.

Can you take credit for some of that or all of it?

12:20 p.m.

Vice-President, Learning Programs Branch, Canada School of Public Service

Jean-François Fleury

As for taking credit for that particular example, I'm not too sure I can do that. But I do think that learning does have a strong influence on the professionalization of the culture in the public service and in turn provides better service excellence to Canadians, which is our objective.

12:20 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Adler Conservative York Centre, ON

It's quite noticeable now.

Thank you very much, Chair.

12:20 p.m.

NDP

The Chair NDP Pat Martin

That's perfect timing, Mr. Adler. That concludes your five minutes as well.

Again, to our witnesses, we're very sorry that due to circumstances beyond our control, we have to truncate your presentation today, but we have benefited very much from the information you gave us and the opportunity to learn more about the Canada School of Public Service.

I'm going to thank you again, Ms. May-Cuconato, Mr. Jean-François Fleury, and Mr. Geofredo Garay.

The meeting is adjourned.